Oakland Voices Alumna Ayodele Nzinga Featured in ‘The New Yorker’ Film “The Game God(S)”

An African American woman wearing all white and a white hair wrap rolls dice towards camera. In the background is Oakland's cranes and shipyards.
Ayodele Nzinga in "The Game God(S)," a film by Adrian L. Burrell. Screenshot from the film.

Our Oakland Voices alumna, and Oakland’s very own first Poet Laureate Ayodele Nzinga, is featured in a new film released this week at The New Yorker. The 17-minute film is called The Game God(S) and is directed by filmmaker Adrian L. Burrell, focusing on the relationship between Black Americans, the American Dream, and capitalism.

Nzinga collaborated with Burrell in writing a spoken word poem, which she reads as a monologue in various settings throughout Oakland “with all the gravitas of a priestess,” according to The New Yorker writer Maya Chesley. Nzinga’s riveting read connects the theme throughout the film in a powerful, dynamic way.

Director Burrell, who grew up in Oakland, displays his filmmaking prowess through interviews with imprisoned men, a drug dealer, a former Madame, a man who was shot, a formerly incarcerated woman speaking about the horrors of prison and suicides within prisons while juxtaposed with a scene of her tenderly holding her baby while bathing.

The film raises questions about the so-called American Dream and why so many are shut out of the dream. “I believe the American Dream is like a carrot,” Burrell tells The New Yorker. “You can sail it out in front of people who were never meant to be citizens.”

The Game God(s) is Executive Produced by another Oakland filmmaker, Pete Nicks, who recently premiered his Netflix documentary Homeroom.

Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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